THURSDAY, AUGUST 12, 1999, 9:30AM
The Voting Integrity Project
PO Box 6470
Arlington VA 22206-0470
(888) 578-4343 toll-free
(978) 945-5688 fax
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Larry Hart 202/365-1152 or 202/261-2168
Kelley Wilson 202/607-3030
Study Cites Dangers of Internet Voting
Nashville, TN -- The Voting Integrity Project ("VIP"), in the first independent study of the issue, warns state governments which are considering using Internet Voting proposals for public elections that premature implementation carries a massive potential for stolen, manipulated or thwarted elections.
At a news conference held at the annual conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council in Nashville, Tennessee, VIP released its first comprehensive policy analysis of the issue of Internet Voting - now under consideration by a number of states and soon to be tested by U.S. military overseas.
The paper, entitled, "Are We Ready For Internet Voting?" delineates the ways in which Internet elections could be tampered, and stresses the need for full public debate and testing of any proposed Internet Voting system before its use in public elections.
"Internet voting is coming on like a loaded semi with no brakes and no lights barreling down the information superhighway in heavy fog," said Deborah Phillips, President of VIP and author of the paper. "What we're saying in this study is, 'let's apply the brakes and put on the lights before implementing Internet voting in any jurisdiction."
Phillips said that although the Internet holds out the potential to make voting more convenient and increase voter participation, premature implementation of Internet voting for public elections could do more harm than good. Phillips cited activities in California, Florida and Washington State to study Internet voting, and a wave of euphoric public statements by Internet voting proponents as cause for concern, given recent Internet security problems and the lack of public debate on the issue of Internet Voting.
The Voting Integrity Project is a non-profit, non-partisan educational organization formed to respond to the growing incidence of reported election fraud. Phillips said this paper marks VIP's first examination of the issue and that Internet voting will remain an area of on-going study as part of the organization's larger Election Systems Technology Project.
In the study, VIP examines the advantages and drawbacks to the technologies available to secure free and fair election on the Internet, such as PINs or passwords, encryption, digital signatures and biometric identifiers. The paper also examines the ability of "hackers," both within the U.S. and around the world, to tamper with an Internet voting system and manipulate the results. Phillips notes, "The stakes are high. There is no federal constraint on state election system choices. And once one state implements, there will be a rush by other states to offer such systems."
Phillips also said that statistics on Internet use raise concerns that Internet voting will only increase access for some while raising the possibility that access could be manipulated to favor certain candidates or issues.
"Despite rapid expansion of Internet use, the typical user is still an under-35 affluent male college graduate," Phillips noted. "This could increase the disparity of voting among different population groups."
The paper is available on VIP's website at www.votingintegrity.org.
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